Yesterday in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Policy Enforcement a bill proposed by Representative David Rivera (R-FL-25) was heard. His bill H.R. 2831 aims to amend the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1996 to ” prohibit Cubans who claim political asylum in the United States from returning to the island nation. The proposal would revoke the residency status of any Cuban national who returns to Cuba after receiving political asylum and residency in the United States under the Cuban Adjustment Act,” says the Miami Herald’s “Naked Politics” blog.
In the hearing, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-16) spoke to the idiocy of the bill which essentially “turns the act of travel to Cuba into a deportable offense…No matter what the reason for stepping foot in Cuba, you lose your status.”
The newly formed group, Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFÉ)spoke along the same thread in a letter (read the entire letter below) that they sent to all members of the subcommittee. “As Cuban-Americans, we are deeply disappointed that Congressman Rivera is once again trying to suppress family travel to Cuba, this time using the protection of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act as a pretext. It is particularly painful to us that people of Cuban-American origin, who know how much value Cuban culture places on the extended family, have decided to play political games with our most closely treasured feelings, with our love for our relatives, and with our right to visit and support them.”
United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary
Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement
B-353 Rayburn H.O.B.
Hon. Elton Gallegly, Chairman
Hon. Steve King, Vice-Chairman
Hon. Dan Lungren
Hon. Louie Gohmert
Hon. Ted Poe
Hon. Trey Gowdy
Hon. Mike Ross
Hon. Zoe Lofgren
Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee
Hon. Maxine Waters
Hon. Pedro Pierluisi
You are in the process of debating H.R.2831 — To amend Public Law 89-732 to modify the requirement for a Cuban national to qualify for and maintain status as a permanent resident, introduced by Congressman Rivera and referred to your committee. As Cuban-Americans, we are deeply disappointed that Congressman Rivera is once again trying to suppress family travel to Cuba, this time using the protection of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act as a pretext.
It is particularly painful to us that people of Cuban-American origin, who know how much value Cuban culture places on the extended family, have decided to play political games with our most closely treasured feelings, with our love for our relatives, and with our right to visit and support them.
Our organization, Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFÉ), speaking on behalf of hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans who support family travel to Cuba, strongly opposes any attempt to isolate us from our loved ones on the island. In 2004, President Bush, pressured by his hard-line Cuban-American supporters, imposed draconian restrictions on family travel, restricting visits to immediate family members to only once every three years. These inhumane measures caused untold pain on both sides of the Florida Straits, as family members were prevented from seeing and caring for their loved ones, in situations ranging from weddings and births to illnesses and family losses. By reversing President Bush’s harsh measures against the Cuban family, President Barack Obama has taken steps towards promoting national reconciliation between Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits and honored one of the commitments he made to the Cuban-American community early in the 2008 presidential campaign. Congressman Rivera’s legislation is nothing but a backdoor attempt to impose similarly punitive restrictions on Cuban families.
Every year more than 400,000 Cuban-Americans are voting with their feet in favor of unregulated family travel to Cuba. Separating Cuban and American societies is not in the national interest of the United States. It is evident that restricting travel to Cuba has been a failed policy that only harms Cubans in both countries, rather than the government of the island. This position is consistent with family, and religious values: no government has the right to keep families apart, preventing them from helping and loving each other, and no government has the right to decide which family members fall under the definition of family. This is a principle that all Americans support, regardless of origin or political beliefs.
The defense of family travel is the first goal of Cuban Americans for Engagement. We have demanded that the Cuban government make an effort to put its migratory policy in line with international standards of freedom of movement. At the same time, we are calling on members of the Cuban-American community in every state of the Union, particularly those who have the honor and privilege of being citizens of this great nation, to tell their representatives in Congress to say no to any restriction on Cuban-American travel to Cuba.
We respectfully ask you to vote no on H.R.2831, and defend the rights of Cuban families to stay in loving contact and support for each other.
The Board of Directors
of Cuban-Americans for Engagement (CAFÉ)
María Isabel Alfonso, Ph.D
Romy Aranguiz, MD
Eduardo Araujo, PhD